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The Invergordon Archive

Donald James ' Sonny' Macleod
The Invergordon Archive
Donald James ' Sonny' Macleod

A recent picture of me taken for the cover of my book on poetry 'Is This Reality?'. Having lived in the area for 73 years, being born and brought up in Invergordon, I went to Invergordon Primary and then the Academy.
Picture added on 28 February 2016 at 10:46
Did you live on the High St behind Hugh the plumber? or was that another Sonny Macleod.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 28 February 2016
Hi Harry, yes I am the self and same Sonny Macleod who lived on High Street, we lived back to back with your grandfather and his family, many happy days we had with Alan Brown chasing rabbits with the dogs.
Added by Sonny Macleod on 29 February 2016
Aha, I remember Sonny. I remember your mother very well also, she used to go to the tatties with us on the bogie to Tomich. Alan Brown is over here in Canada, he lives in Ontario, I am in British Columbia.
Glad to see you looking well..
Added by Harry O'Neill on 29 February 2016
Great photo Sonny. Last time I saw you would have been at Libby Gunns wedding or one of her siblings. Hope you are keeping well.
Added by Liz Taylor nee Askew on 17 April 2016
Yes I remember you Sonny, although a very many years ago, glad your doing well for yourself.
Added by David Gow on 23 April 2016
Hi Sonny, remember you more than well, from the Swimming Galas. I was from Alness. I recall you were an excellent swimmer and won most races. I was not too bad myself but you were always ahead of me. Also remember the "Greasy Pole" at Galas. This was at the old sea pool on the road to Saltburn and I could always look forward to a dry off and a mug of Bovril. Great Memories.
Added by Samuel Kennedy on 01 May 2016
Hi Sonny, you're looking good! Always liked you and Anne as you were both very smiley people and like me you were wee! I think you lived just by Nonnies toy shop on the High Street. Best regards.
Added by Bill Geddes on 03 August 2016
Hi Bill, you have me mixed up with the other Donald Macleod who lived opposite me on the Royal Hotel side of the street. I see his sister Anne sometimes and she still has a lovely smile. My sister's name was Kathleen. You and I were in the same class in school all through the primary. After that we took different directions you went into the A section and I made it into the B. But we both had the distinction of having our faces slapped by a six foot four ex sailor come teacher. I remember when you moved up to Gordon Terrace and I moved to Seaforth crescent when we were about twelve years old. The 'Donald' you refered to was called Shorty as a by name while I am still called Sonny, I bit silly for a man my age. Nice hearing from you Bill, always interesting posts. Regards Sonny
Added by Donald J. Macleod on 03 August 2016
Hi Samuel, didn't your dad have a shop in Alness many years ago? and you lived at bottom of gaza strip, I lived next door to Harry Matheson at Ballachraggan and also had a BSA star.
Added by David Gow on 03 August 2016
Hi David, you are correct. I grew up in Victoria House at the bottom of the Gaza Strip. Have been in South Africa now for 48 years. Remember Alness and many of its people with great fondness. I manage to get back every 2 or 3 years.
Added by Sam Kennedy on 04 August 2016
Hello Sonny. You mentioned one of the teachers at the Academy. Casting my mind back some of the ones I recall were: Betty McMillan, Tich McFarlane, Donald McFarlane, Cluney the French Teacher, Matheson the maths teacher, John (Leaky) Ross the Latin teacher, Clark, Headmaster and science teacher, and "Smithy" who taught "woodwork" etc. I recall we had a couple of guys from Orkney who went to the school. Always remember Billy Geddes, with his tweed jacket, being asked a question by Leaky and getting it correct. He was so surprised and elated he stretched his arm over to his back and patted it.
Added by Sam Kennedy on 04 August 2016
Good to hear from you, I knew your dad very well, got all my gear from him, a nice quiet man, I was with Jim Monteith baker for 3 years selling morning rolls, you may remember.
Added by David Gow on 04 August 2016
David, how you manage to spring memories -- it's great. Remember the Monteiths (Jim) well. He took over the bakery from the Wilsons. I think the Wilson's son was "Robin". Also recall many of the High Street shops -- Whitefords the Drapers and my Dad took over that, Urquharts the shoe shop, Ross-Munro the Ironmongers, MacKenzies (who became Robertsons the newsagents), Hughie Munro the butcher, Wrights the bakers, Coutts the Butcher (became Dingwalls (Donny from the prefabs father)), Brownlies who had the Garage, Jock the Barber, Mitchels had a transport Company, Grants the grocer (became Jock McLellans), Ma Bain who had a fish and chip shop and then the post office. Then there was Willie the barber who married to one of the Wright sisters (Grocers) who played the organ in the church. Tony's the fish and chip/Ice cream shop. Aldies the newsagents, and just passed the Station Hotel was Abernethy (became Ross) the Chemist and there was a Hughie McKenzie who had a grocers shop where the Heritage Centre is today.
Sadly Dad passed away at an early age (58) but Mum continued with the business for many years. After retiring she lived in Kintyre House in Saltburn. I can always recall saying "I would never see my Mum going to a retirement home and she must come and stay with us" Well how wrong I was, it was a great place for her and she was very happy being with so many "Alness" friends in her latter years, one of which was Dora Mason, who had been our neighbour in "Berryden" next to Victoria House. My Wife and I came from South Africa often and visited her there, often taking her away for a few days.
I say to you "Slainte" Best Regards.
Added by Sam Kennedy on 04 August 2016
Sorry to hear about your dad Sam, but I heard Kintyre house was nice, I knew all these shops and its a long time ago, I see my sister and brother in Alness once in a while, I'm in Aberdeen 26 years, I do 3 nights nightshift, I'm 73, I've been in South Africa a few times and Zimbabwe, my ex wife, we are still very good friends came from there, I've been to Joberg, Capetown, Robben Island, Sun City, I used to go to a farm near Kiamos, near Uppinton and Kimberly, beautiful country, long journeys.
Added by David Gow on 04 August 2016
Aye David, time flies. I'm 73 as well. South Africa had been a great Country for me. Things are changing and I'm reviewing my options, as there is much corruption and service delivery, and cost of living leaves a lot to be desired. But still a beautiful land with a variety of landscapes and climates. Not, however as Bonnie as my Hameland. Slainte.
Added by Sam Kennedy on 06 August 2016
Re Invergordon Academy. Donald McFarlane, the English teacher, was his nickname not "Lofty"?
Added by Sam Kennedy on 08 August 2016
Hi Sam, you are correct, the slapping teacher was called 'Lofty' for obvious reasons. He must have been at least a foot taller than his wife 'Tich'. Still, we got friendly later on when I 'grew up' I think I remember you went into the bank when you left school. I'm glad to see that everything seemed to have worked out for, I look forward to reading your posts.
regards Sonny you in South Africa
Added by Donald J. Macleod on 08 August 2016
Lots of memories there, was King Kong not mentioned? and yes he gave me the belt as well, Smithy threw a wooden duster once and gave me a smack with a stick, I met him a few times after and found that he was a very nice guy, I had a very soft touch for Betty Mcmillan, she was my teacher and she was lovely.
Added by David Gow on 08 August 2016
Lofty wouldn't last 5 seconds as a teacher today. He abused his authority. Saw him slap (across the face) one kid for talking while walking to the sports day...apparently he was known for this.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 08 August 2016
Betty Mcmillan was good teacher drove some sort of sports car. Everyone forgets Katie Carmichael who taught out of room 15.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 08 August 2016
Yes there was a few like that then Harry, I once got a terrible slap from a headmaster called Fraser in Conon school just because I wasn't opening my mouth enough, he was a Gaelic singer on radio I remember, but I can still feel the slap, that was around 1955.
Added by David Gow on 08 August 2016
But there were also very good times and you remember those teachers with some sort of respect too, it was all part of your growing up , I don't really down them as children can be awkward to handle and I wouldn't have their job for anything and maybe I deserved what I got, but a bit cruel at the time, and you didn't tell anyone that was the worst part, parents didn't know.
Added by David Gow on 08 August 2016
Yes Sonny, you are correct. Started off in The National Bank of Scotland in Dingwall, and ended up in the National Commercial Bank of Scotland in Alness. In 1959 I was in Dingwall when the National Bank merged with the Commercial Bank and I do have a regret. The National Bank closed and we moved across the road to the Commercial Banks premises. I was given the task of clearing out the attic. I could cry when I think of the Beautiful hand written documents and Ledgers that were thrown out. Some dating back to the mid 1800s. Some ledgers with deposits or withdrawals for a farthing or so, and beautifully hand written with pen and ink. Angus McDonald was my Manager and being of the "old school" used a nibbed pen for writing. His signature was magnificent.
Added by Sam Kennedy on 09 August 2016
Sam Kennedy! You must have some memory! To recall not just what someone did but what he was wearing at the time is quite phenominal. I have been quite surprised to read stuff here about Lofty McMillan being violent in class. I have no recollection of this. In fact my impressions are of a big hairy man who was quite gentle and sympathetic. Looking back, he was possibly the only teacher I can remember making an effort with me. He always encouraged and praised me...quite unusual for me in those days. I think John Ross (Leakey) was another teacher who retained lots of humanity. All in all my school days were not the high point of my life and looking back, not many teachers seemed too bothered about helping pupils. Sam, you were one of the Alness incomers to the Secondary school, there was quite a few of you including Hamish McKay, Mary Murdoch etc. In those days Alness was considered Tchueterland by Invergordon people...daft really! Incidentally, I am about to go up to Ross-Shire for 3 weeks and will definitely be visiting Alness & Invergordon so will be reporting back on my impressions.
Added by Bill Geddes on 09 August 2016
Yeah Bill I travelled back and fore on a bus to Invergordon, myself and Albert Munro, he came from Novar toll, then we picked up all the riff raff (!), at Alness, I remember John Ross originally from Balintore if I'm correct, nobody mentioned Jackie Hall, he was my Science teacher, a nice quiet man, with the the hardest belt!
Added by David Gow on 09 August 2016
From "Teuchter Kennedy" Hi Bill I cannot recall ever suffering from any of the teachers, but certainly some individuals did. It was Betty McMillan, Lofty was McFarlane. Others from Alness to name a couple were, David Ross, Bertie Cameron, John McIver, Joan McKenzie, Wendy McKenzie and Gillian Munro.
Added by Sam Kennedy on 10 August 2016
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Saltburn Fund-raising GroupMacGregors supermarketFay Mackenzie and Angus MackenzieReading about the planned closure of the SmelterMy mother at the Royal HotelGrandad Geordie Ross and StyloGeordie Ross and meDon RossGeordie MacKenzie Kathleen MacKenzie and Don Ross